A Matter Of Priorities!
As per a well-known expression, Rome’s emperor at the time, the decadent and unpopular Nero, “fiddled while Rome burned”. The expression has a double meaning: Not only did Nero play music while his people suffered, but he was an ineffectual leader in a time of crisis. Today, when the second wave of COVID-19 Pandemic is claiming hundreds of lives in the Indian capital of New Delhi (and other parts of the country), Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to implement the Central Vista project! Under this project, the Government of India is building a new Parliament House, and carrying out the beautification works of the Capital City. The Government has decided to complete the project, with an estimated budget of USD 140 million, at a time when Delhi hospitals are facing scarcity of beds and oxygen cylinders. Furthermore, the prolonged lockdown has disrupted normal life in the capital. However, the work of the Central Vista project has earned the tag of essential service! Hence, the work is going on in three shifts, and 180 vehicles have been allowed to run for this purpose even during curfew. Otherwise, it would not be possible to complete PM Modi’s Dream Project by the end of 2021…
The decision to carry out such a costly project is not only unfortunate, but also inhumane, keeping in mind the tragic scenario of the capital’s crumbling Healthcare System and the deaths of helpless common people. Experts are of the opinion that more than 160 oxygen plants could be built in just one-fourth of the allocated budget for this project. Even the free vaccination drive for 70% of the South Asian Nation’s 18- to 44-year-olds would cost less than USD 20 million. Still, the Modi Administration has decided to spend the Taxpayers’ Money in building the new Parliament House during the Pandemic. In December 2020, Speaker of the Indian Parliament’s Lower House Om Birla reportedly said: “The existing Temple of Democracy is completing 100 years… It is a matter of pride for our countrymen that the new one will be built by our own people as a prime example of Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India).” The speaker was right… the people of India shall never forget at which cost the new Temple of Democracy would be built.
During the Pandemic, the Prime Minister urged his countrymen to make some compromises with their time, lifestyle, social and cultural zing. People have responded to his call, and have given up everything, even their lives. Unfortunately, the Head of the Government, himself, is not ready to compromise with his plan. PM Modi was heard saying that the Central Vista project should be considered as a National Pride, especially in the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence (to be celebrated in August 2021).
Former Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Inder Kumar Gujral had arranged Special Parliamentary Sessions to mark the 25th and 50th anniversaries of Independence, respectively. However, they did not spend a huge amount of Public Money on those occasions. Prime Minister Modi’s dream is different. His feeling of pride is as strong as iron, with possibly of little sympathy for the masses. Hence, the Central Vista project shall be implemented at any cost. The death toll would not have any impact on the PM’s Dream Project.
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